The August long weekend has passed, and although this makes us a little sad, we hope you will continue to embrace the rest of summer with lots of time spent outdoors in nature. To have the most enjoyable, healthy, and eco-friendly experience possible, we wanted to bring some much needed information to your attention regarding the following “backyard essential” items, as well as give you the opportunity to make them yourself! As with many other store-bought products, some sunscreens and bug repellents are made with dangerous chemicals that are unsafe to living things and the environment. Do your research before buying the products you need, or make them yourself when you can.


SUNSCREEN

Environmental Working Group (EWG) is a non-profit, research and advocacy organization that drives consumer choice and civic action regarding human health and the environment. They do a lot of research around sunscreen, including an annual guide which highlights some of the major misconceptions and health concerns.

To summarize:

  1. There’s no proof that sunscreens prevent most skin cancer
  2. Don’t be fooled by high SPF
  3. The common sunscreen additive vitamin A may speed development of skin cancer
  4. European sunscreens provide better UVA protection
  5. Sunscreen doesn’t protect skin from all types of sun damage
  6. Some sunscreen ingredients disrupt hormones and cause skin allergies
  7. Mineral sunscreens contain nanoparticles
  8. If you avoid sun, check your vitamin D levels

Almost three-fourths of the products we examined offer inferior sun protection or contain worrisome ingredients like oxybenzone, a hormone disruptor, or retinyl palmitate, a form of vitamin A that may harm skin. And despite scant evidence, the government still allows most sunscreens to claim they help prevent skin cancer. –  EWG, 11th Annual Sunscreen Guide

So, what’s your best choice?… Wear proper and protective clothing outdoors (including sunglasses and hats), drink plenty of water (in your reusable bottle of course), and take breaks in the shade. Do your research for the healthiest brands of sunscreen for you and your family. Did you know you can also make your own natural sunscreen? See this Treehugger blog for recipes: 3 Natural DIY sunscreen recipes to make at home, for cheap (Video).

Already have a sunburn?…

DIY Natural After Sun Cooling Cream

Here’s what you need to make 4oz :

  • 1/4 cup aloe vera gel
  • 5 drops pure jojoba oil
  • 1 tablespoon organic, unrefined Shea butter (warmed so that it is very soft)
  • 1 tablespoon organic coconut oil (warmed so that it is very soft)
  • 10 drops peppermint essential oil
  • 5 drops lavender essential oil
  • 5 drops frankincense essential oil

BUG REPELLENT

EWG’s has concluded that although DEET certainly isn’t perfect, its safety profile is actually better than a lot of people think. Because it is highly effective, reasonably safe, and has been used billions of times, they concluded  it’s a reasonable choice when you need a repellent that really works. Since there are still some concerns over DEET, EWG also recommends several good alternatives: Picardin, IR 3535 and Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus. If you want to use DEET, skip the high concentrations. Opt for 7-to-10% if you only need a few hours of protection and 20-to-30% DEET for a full day. Got kids? Check out this detailed recommendation here. And always follow basic precautions when using any bug repellent.

Natural Bug Spray

Ingredients:

  • 30 drops geranium essential oil
  • 30 drops citronella essential oil
  • 20 drops lemon eucalyptus essential oil
  • 20 drops lavender essential oil
  • 10 drops rosemary essential oil
  • 1 Tablespoon vodka or rubbing alcohol
  • 1/2 cup Natural Witch Hazel
  • 1/2 cup water (or vinegar)
  • 1 teaspoon of vegetable glycerin (optional)

Mason Jar Luminaries: Homemade Bug Repellent

Materials:

  • 2-8 oz Mason jars
  • 1-16 oz Mason jar
  • 40 drops rosemary essential oil
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 key limes or 1 lime
  • 8 fresh rosemary sprigs
  • 3 tea light candles
  • 32 oz water

DIY Wasp Trap

Although I know a wasp sting isn’t pleasant (and I’ve had my fair share over the years), I don’t always agree that we should resort to killing them for our comfort… Nonetheless, I would rather see people try to make the following DIY wasp traps instead of resorting to something HORRIBLE like this

Here is a how-to guide for making a wasp trapor take it to the next level with this decorative wine bottle wasp trap for something a little more snazzy! Remember to use household and/ or recyclable items! There’s no need to create any unnecessary waste.

 

Remember to Leave no Trace While in the Outdoors!